“We are making a difference.”
– riCHard laVergne, aafC
Here’s a recipe for you. Pour 250 to 275 litres of water into a 400-litre pot. Pre-boil the water for almost three hours. Add 68 kilograms of oatmeal from Manitoba-grown oats. Let thicken for about 15 minutes. The result: 327.5 kg of oatmeal porridge. Serves 300 to 400.
What have you got? A world record.
Agriculture in the City organizers last week cooked up the world’s biggest bowl of oatmeal, shattering the previous record of 171.9 kg set September 2009 in Manchester, England.
The information has been forwarded to the Guinness Book of World Records for verification.
It was the high point of the three-day event held at The Forks Market in Winnipeg to increase agricultural awareness among city dwellers.
And if you think it was gimmicky, not at all. It was a serious attempt to demonstrate agronomy, nutrition and economics to urbanites all in one go, according to Nancy Ames, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada plant scientist.
For example, did you know that Manitoba-milled oatmeal is 6.5 per cent
beta-glucan, a soluble fibre which helps lower blood cholesterol levels?
That’s the kind of information Ames provided at the AAFC booth, talking to people about plant and food science while their children played enthusiastically at earth moving, using loose oatmeal and toy dump trucks.
There was lots more information about agriculture at the 22 other booths located in The Forks centre court March 19 to 21.
There was also plenty to do at interactive displays booths, including milking a life-size plastic blue replica of a cow. (Only don’t tell kids having a whale of a time milking a cow that hardly any farmer hand-milks dairy cows in Manitoba any more.)
An estimated 25,000 people visiting the displays got a chance to touch, taste and see what’s happening in agriculture. Many helped themselves to agricultural freebies ranging from oatmeal packets and dill-and-vinegar field pea snacks to spice mixes for omelettes.
“And recipes,” laughed Janet Irwin at the Manitoba Egg Farmers booth. “They can’t get enough recipes.”
A game show titled “So You Think You Can Farm?” (based on a TV show of a somewhat different name) asked contestants skill-testing questions such as: how many eggs does an average hen lay in a year? (The correct answer: 250.)
Richard Lavergne, an AAFC employee on the Agriculture in the City organizing committee, said the idea for the event originated 10 years ago when he and others involved in agriculture were struck by the fact that many city kids didn’t know milk came from cows. It came from the local Safeway.
Last week, Lavergne was struck again, this time by a greater public awareness about the role agriculture plays in people’s everyday lives, from food safety to nutraceuticals to the environment.
Some even knew that flax straw can be used to make panels for city buses.
“We are making a difference,” Lavergne said. [email protected]